3D printer could help British war veteran walk again

Written by: Laura Hopperton | Published:
3D printer to help British war veteran walk again

OPS has supplied an Objet Eden 3D printer to surgeons in the UK to help them plan the reconstruction of the knee of a British soldier, which was smashed by a bullet while he was serving in Iraq.

Professor Justin Cobb, from London's Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, based at Charing Cross Hospital, will be using the 3D printer to produce micron-layer precise knee joint models and patterns for titanium plates that will be used in the pioneering reconstructive surgery.

This is expected to help the surgeon's more accurately plan the surgery, reconfigure the bones more quickly and avoid the need to replace the entire knee joint.

The pre-surgery procedure will use the effectiveness of low radiation dose CT scanning of the anatomy of the patient's limb to capture multiple slice images of the joint and ligaments to create a personalised knee scan.

This will then be built up into a SolidWorks 3D imaging model to provide an accurate visual address to the extent of the damage to the limb, which will then be transported into the Objet 3D printer using the MED 610 bio-compatible material, allowing prolonged contact to be made with the skin.

This solid model not only gives pre-operative visual and tactile information, but also the intra-operative guidance to assist the planning and undertaking of the surgery.

As well as the MED 610 material, the Objet Eden 3D 250 printer has the capability to work with up to 10 different materials, including ABS, polypropylene and transparent materials, with a variety of colours and physical characteristics.

The process is based on using 16 micron print layers to create models accurate to between 0.1 to 0.3mm, while being realistic and useable for form, fit and function, prototyping and testing.

"This operation using 3D printing technology is a 'world first' for reconstructive surgery, providing total liberation to the surgeon and opening up a completely new approach to the operation," Prof Cobb concluded.

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